How CEMEX Gave its Marketing Team a Makeover With Monks+

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Not long ago, the multinational building materials company CEMEX embarked on a journey to evolve its traditional foundations into a digitally-driven business. It was a bold move within an industry that seldom comes to mind when we think about digital transformation, but a venture crowned with success by the hands of an in-house content production team.

At its core, the decision to evolve their marketing team and bring content production in-house stemmed from the fact that in today’s highly competitive market, brands need to attract their target audience with high-quality content that responds to their needs in real-time. This means balancing speed, quality and value without sacrificing any. To that end, CEMEX found agency partners were very valuable, but an in-house approach could better position them for the years to come by providing the necessary agility.

Naturally, our Monks+ category team—which specializes in amplifying our client’s capabilities through flexible in-house, embedded or hybrid partnerships—was there to help. From enlightening senior management on the importance of smart content production—the delivery of high-performing content based on consumers’ needs—to collaborating with recruitment to cast the right talent, we brought CEMEX’s ambitions to life in a matter of months, we set them up for success in today’s always-on marketing environment.

Setting up a Custom-Fit Team

For a massive organization with clients all over the world, balancing speed and quality without breaking the bank is no easy feat. And although this is one of today’s biggest challenges for digital brands, traditional companies are by no means exempt. “It was a bold choice for us to undertake this digital transformation journey,” says Guillermo Vivanco, Head of Marketing at CEMEX Mexico. “But we knew that managing our content production in-house could be more cost-effective and allow us to future-proof our team.”

a graphic for CEMEX's Experts campaign

For the “Xperts” campaign, CEMEX’s in-house content production team was the key to high-quality assets with speed to market.

In order to get there, CEMEX needed a model that was truly tailored to their needs and interests: building a fully-integrated team that blends into the brand’s existing infrastructure. In this case, a team composed of agency experts packed with a deep understanding of the brand’s challenges, goals and culture, partnered with CEMEX’s employees to revamp their website, produce integrated marketing campaigns and help Vivanco assemble CEMEX’s own content production team. One that could compete with any agency’s level of expertise, high-tech equipment and appetite for innovation.

For CEMEX, the end goal was to support at least 50% of their content production needs from within the company. And when building a tailored embedded partnership, the ultimate aim is to back the brand’s key objectives, which can vary significantly among different companies. As our Global Head of Embedded Production Louise Martens explains, “It’s key to align on how we will be measuring success from the very beginning. We may already know what a content production in-house studio should look like, but it’s important to ensure both parties are on the same page.”

It All Boils Down to Partnership

One of the greatest aspects of having a model that fully immerses team members in their clients’ business and culture is that it sparks profound engagement. When done right, it can run deep. “With CEMEX, we managed to set up a working relationship that was fun, encouraging and very rewarding,” says Martens. “In a way, we created a new culture, which was fascinating to see.”

Having a joint culture drives a deep sense of personal stake in the brand’s success, but it also leads to full transparency and higher accountability. Add to that the flexibility in scale and skill sets available on-demand, and it’s no wonder many opt for this model. 

But just like an embedded team fully immerses into the client’s business to amplify the team’s power, it’s important for brands to have an integrated mindset too. That is, desiloed processes that allow different departments to seamlessly work together.

Monk Thoughts As head of marketing, I want my team to be an extension of the sales and customer experience. At the end of the day, our goal is to strengthen the relationship with our consumers by giving them the best possible experience at the right time. One of the ways we can achieve that is by serving native content that’s fit-for-format, agile, and mindfully curated.
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Guillermo Vivanco headshot
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Building Businesses for the New Era—Brick by Brick

Of course, building a team from scratch didn’t come without its obstacles. But while long timelines or the ability to retain creative talent are some of the most common concerns, Vivanco explains that the biggest challenge is to pass on the sense of urgency internally. “It’s not always easy to help everyone see why these efforts are relevant,” he says. “How in-house production can make any business thrive and why we need to leverage the latest technology  to do so.”

About steeping senior management in the importance of creative work, Martens agrees but adds, “It is true that, as a marketing services company, we have a different view of the value of content and how to think about advertising. But in most cases, companies within the more traditional industries are the ones we innovate the most with, because they are open to being taught, as their expertise lies somewhere else.”

As daunting as the process may seem, it’s the embedded team’s responsibility to coach everyone through it and to offer support every step of the way. At least until the brand has reached their final goal, which could take as many forms as there are companies in the world. For CEMEX, this is just the start of an ongoing journey of digital transformation. “Now that we have the bandwidth to support most of our content production needs in-house , the next step is to build a robust data team that can facilitate  the ownership of  our first-party data and allow us to iterate in an intelligent way,” concludes Vivanco.

In marketing, change is the only constant, which makes it increasingly difficult for a brand to stay on top of the game. Yet with access to valuable resources and the right model in place, building a trusting relationship with your consumers should be a smooth process. One where cost-effectiveness, speed-to-market and a consistent narrative are not opposites, but bridged by an embedded model that’s rooted in collaboration, transparency and teamwork.

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